Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Curiosity Cabinet

Now that Downton Abbey has ended for this season, the husband and I have been looking for other television programs. A few nights ago, we watched Masterpiece's "The Old Curiosity Shop," an adaptation of the Charles Dickens' novel.  It wasn't a very good show even though it starred Derek Jacobi, who was phenomenal in I, Claudius.

The idea of a Curiosity Shop, though, made me think of the hutch in our dining room.  It is a sort of curiosity cabinet.  Despite the fact that we have a house full of "stuff," we don't have a lot on display.  We're not much on knickknacks or tchotchkes or what Alison from The Polohouse calls vignettes.  She sets up such lovely little scenes which she photographs for her blog.  I don't really have charming arrangements of items in our house, mostly because I hate to dust.

A vignette, according to Merriam-Webster, is a brief incident or scene or a short, descriptive literary sketch.  In that sense, our curiosity cabinet is filled with vignettes or, at least, with items that tell stories, if only to me and my family.  Come and look into our curiosity cabinet.

The cabinet itself originally belonged to my husband's grandparents.  He scavenged it from their basement many years ago.  (You can barely see them in the above picture, but there are mouse holes by the drawers.)  He and his father then stripped off the old paint and returned the hutch to "upstairs" quality.  When we brought it to our house, it was intended as a place to store dishes and table linens, but it has become a little like the shop in the Dickens tale, "one of those receptacles for old and curious things which seem to crouch in odd corners of this town . . . ."

The hutch is part library:  You can see a collection of Oz books scattered throughout.  They belonged to my father-in-law and his older brother when they were boys.  There is also an old Raggedy Ann book on the top shelf.  Cards and postcards from friends and family are stuck in everywhere.

Let's look a little closer.

Pitchers from art fairs; a soapstone hand, carved by my father-in-law; Easter eggs painted by
various family members; a bouquet of flowers knitted by my daughter in a mug made by my son.
Seashells gathered in Florida; Dutch figure salt and pepper shakers from my aunt's collection in front of a postcard from
Mount Vernon; a sarcophagus carved by my father-in-law when he was a boy in front of a postcard from The Biltmore.

I'm linking to The Polohouse Favorites on the First

March 1st -- Next linky party!

and Mercantile Muse.


  1. Oh what a treasure you found in your husband's grandparents basement! What a beautiful cabinet to store and display your treasures. I see the adorable salt and pepper collectibles and the pitcher is lovely. I love how you mix family treasures and books.
    I'm so happy to meet your.

    The French Hutch

  2. I love your family treasures and memories! What a great curiosity cabinet. Whenever I see one at a friends house, I am naturally drawn to it. Thank you for your comment on my blog..I so appreciate your visits!
    Aloha, Connie

  3. Your vignette has such a warm, cozy feel. I love the hutch. So nice to have these family treasures.

  4. Yup, hutches are a great way to corral our collections, and as you say the best are behind glass so you don't have so much to dust! Thanks for stopping by. I'm your newest follower, Mary Alice

  5. Love that hutch! I love personal keepsakes all tucked away for display. The crochet flowers and the mug are so fabulous. I love that! Love the antique books too. I'm with ya on the dusting. ICK! I HATE to dust!

  6. You have some wonderful things in your hutch! They all make me curious too. Interesting post! Pamela

  7. Loved all of your family connections - they make your 'curiosity shop' even more special. Sally

  8. I'm already missing Downton Abbey - can't wait for next season.
    I love this hutch - so many interesting treasures inside!

  9. Love how you described the hutch's restoration as bringing it back to "upstairs" quality. When I noticed that I was spending way too much time dusting the cabinet in my dining room (it has no doors on the upper shelves), I emptied it out, brought it downstairs and now use it to store my winter sleepwear. It's the opposite fate of your hutch!

    I was so fascinated by those treasures in your curio cabinet. You made our virtual tour all the more interesting with the story behind them. I'm partial to the soapstone hand carving your father-in-law made.

  10. I enjoyed that peek into your hutch - such a wonderfully eclectic collection, all the more meaningful because of family connections. The little hand caught my attention right away - a wonderful curiosity. I enjoyed Downton Abbey very much and have bought Season One to watch again, and will find Season Two as well - there's so much that one misses on the first go-round.

  11. Okay, I seem to be following your around on some blogs today so I might as well follow you personally, hah. Thanks for stopping by Cozy Blanket today. I just posted some more information on the vultures. I know you wil want to read this, he he.

  12. A well-loved hutch chock-full of treasures, thanks for sharing it with us all. :) I love, love the old books. I don't have knick-knacks hanging around either, dusting is not my favorite chore. :)

  13. Cool! I'm not big on figurines and all that- we like to keep our house minimal too, but, there are some little mementos you get along the way that you just have to save! I think we need a curiosity hutch too because right now the little trinkets are in places that make us frown!

  14. What a great piece of furniture Posy and how lovely that it's been in the family for so long. I love all the curious bits and pieces you have collected over the years - lots of precious memories there!

  15. Letting us view your "vignettes" is really special...thank you! The knitted flowers in the mug made by your son...I can't even...those are so incredible! I look forward to the things Charlotte and Oliver make for me to display in my vignettes...

  16. It was fun having a look into your curiosity cabinet. Looks like it is full of treasures. :-)

  17. wow lynette,your father in law was quite the carver. love that hand!

  18. Wow, so many treasures! Thanks for sharing special memories!

  19. Well I just learned something. I've heard that term used before referring to decorating but wasn't sure what it meant.

    I love the little hand!

  20. This gorgeous family heirloom hutch is perfect for
    All you lovely and meaningful pieces!
    I am impressed by your FIL's precious carvings.
    Love the little Egyptian piece!

    Thanks so much for linking up!

  21. Hi there, I just wanted to say how much I love your blog! I'm gifting you with an award if you want to stop by my blog and collect it! :)

  22. Thanks for sharing your curiosities. The hutch is beautiful - and I love getting a peek at people's little treasures.

  23. I love your curiosity cabinet. So many fun things.

  24. Thanks for letting us inside your cabinet! I love hearing where these little keepsakes came from.


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